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Marine’s Assault Attempt May Open Old Wounds

Date Posted: 2000-01-22

Lance Cpl. Oswald McDonald Jr., age 29, of the Marine Aircraft Group 36, opened a new, but familiar, can of worms on Friday, January 14th, at 4:00 a.m. The local police that night arrested McDonald for sexually assaulting a Japanese woman in her thirties on the dance floor of an off-base discotheque. This is the first arrest since the “Off-limits” curfew was lifted in October of 1999. The curfew had banned military personnel from entering Okinawa City from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The curfew had been established four years ago when three US Marines were arrested for raping a local 12-year-old girl. The incident had unearthed a controversial push to rid Okinawa of the military bases. Since then, military corps activities have been under undergoing strict scrutiny by the municipal government.

According to Police and US military sources, McDonald has confessed that he groped the lady while he was drunk, but denies charges of a rape attempt. Needless to say, the account has attracted national attention. Okinawa City Mayor commented, “A terrible event has occurred… after so many measures have been made… I want him [Oswald McDonald Jr.] to be immediately sent back to the US”

The incident comes at a crucial moment, when preparations for this year’s G-8 Summit are gearing up. Plans for the construction of an air facility at Henoko in Nago to replace MCAS Futenma, and for commercial use, may suffer significant delays if such incidents continue coming up. Anti-base activists saw in the last incident an unexpected boost to their positions.

The Government of Japan’s Administrative Vice Foreign Minister, Yutaka Kawashima has urged the US Government to strengthen disciplinary measures on US bases in Japan. Following a meeting with Kawashima, US Undersecretary of Defense, Jacques Gansler has pledged to cooperate fully with the Prefectural police, and has expressed regret over the incident.

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